from A. O. Scott’s NYT review of “The Beguiled”:
“For this reason, “The Beguiled” has generated some controversy, in particular for omitting all but the most cursory mention of slavery. While this doesn’t strike me as an unfair criticism — as Corey Atad points out in Slate, an onscreen note explaining that “the slaves left” carries understatement to the point of historical irresponsibility — it also risks applying a standard that may not be entirely relevant to Ms. Coppola’s concerns.”
From Atad’s “Slate” review we hear this on what was “relevant to Ms. Coppola’s concerns”:
“You always see stories about men at war, but I don’t think I’ve seen what happens to the women left behind,” Coppola continued. “I’ve always loved the women in the South, and the South in general; it’s so exotic and different.”
None of this settles anything in a definitive way. Who but a full-tilt deplorable would argue against more films with African Americans as the *central characters*, especially when it’s a movie set in the South in the Civil War era? On the other hand, where is it written that the creators of a film must fill the screen with characters, dialogue, themes that do not fulfill their artistic intentions? The problem is with the money men and their view of what audiences will pay to see. The important problem to be faced is (to my mind) why there are so few films made on Black historical themes and personalities. One and done should be left to the corruption of NCAA basketball. It still remains too much a part of the film industry’s style of support. The stories of the world of human beings enslaved in America, enduring and courageously fighting the circumstances of their lives, could fill a very large archive. Attempting to wedge these stories into a film that is clearly about other things is a form of tokenism that serves no artist of integrity or cause of historical justice.